Will the Liberals deliver a budget that acknowledges the climate emergency?

OTTAWA – Since the last federal budget, the Liberal government has squandered $4.5 billion on an ageing pipeline while committing to spend another $10-13 billion to expand said pipeline. Given that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that to avoid global catastrophe we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030, what are they thinking?

“Imagine what a truly responsible budget might look like,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “We would be providing funding to retrofit homes and buildings for energy efficiency, providing thousands of jobs while reducing emissions. There would be vigorous financial incentives encouraging Canadians to install solar panels on their roofs. We’d modernize the east-west electricity grid; currently Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec share their excess electricity with the U.S. Why aren’t we sharing those resources within Canada?”

A recent poll shows that 64 per cent of Canadians say they would switch to electric vehicles if it was affordable and practical. “Finally acting to restore the supports for Canadian to move to EVs, after Harper canceled such measures in 2006, is not enough. We have to ensure that the electricity charging vehicles is from 100 per cent renewable sources. We need an extensive highway of car chargers from coast to coast, not just a smattering in urban centres. When will the government listen to the citizens of this country and modernize our infrastructure for the 21st century instead of shackling us to the past?

“We also need substantial investment to overhaul public transportation. I’ve been travelling across Canada by bus and rail on the Community Matters Tour and I can tell you first hand that many, many communities lack good public transportation and it’s not just urban public transit. Most provinces no longer have any bus service between cities. I know we’re a vast country but so is Russia and about 57 per cent of their population use public transportation because it’s extensive, cheap and reliable. We can do the same.”

Ms. May said she hopes Finance Minister Bill Morneau has more to say about pharmacare when he delivers his budget tomorrow. “The government’s recent pharmacare report was disappointing,” she observed. “Greens have long advocated for a universal pharmacare plan and would implement it immediately. However, one vital difference is that a Green plan would include the gold standard for evidence-based assessment of the risks and benefits of pharmaceuticals, as recommended in the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia.

“A federal budget should reflect the priorities of a nation. Canada and the rest of the world face a climate emergency and a perfunctory patchwork of climate-themed band-aids doesn’t cut it. We need to start helping Canadians prepare for a very different world, stop all the inter-provincial bickering and get to work on building a clean energy future with a vibrant, sustainable economy.”